The Delta Government has launched the pig multiplication and farmers support programme, aimed at bridging perceptible gaps in animal protein consumption in the state.
Chief Austin Chikezie, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, inaugurated the programme at Divine Rina Farms in Ugbolu, Oshimili North Local Government Area.
He said that 30 youths, who were selected from across the state, would be attached to major participating farms for training.
The commissioner said that the youths would be trained in the modern techniques of pig breeding to enhance pork production, profitability and succession of ageing farmers.
He said that the programme was designed to address the major challenges facing farmers in the state.
Chikezie identified the problems as paucity of funds and inadequate skills, among others, which had been the reason for the failures which the farmers recorded over the years.
He said that the programme would increase pork production to over 120 tonnes per annum, with the capacity of creating 45 direct jobs and many more jobs under its value chain.
He said that at the end of the training, the government would empower the trainees with finance and other materials to start pig farms.
Chikezie said that the programme was intended to address the difficulties in accessing genetically improved breeds of pigs, high cost of good quality feeds, lack of appropriate production skills and inadequate finance.
“Empirical evidence indicates that there is a huge gap in the animal protein intake of people of Nigeria and this is corroborated by the reports of the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FOA).
“The observed gap is a consequence of the low level of livestock production in the country and efforts to bridge it require concerted efforts.
“Pig farming, if efficiently managed, is profitable and has a high potential for job creation along its value chain.
“It is also designed to rejuvenate the pig industry which is currently dominated by matured adults.
“To this end, 30 youths have been selected and attached to participating farms for training and mentorship in the business of pig farming for a period of six months,’’.
The commissioner said that the modalities for implementing the programme involved the selection of farmers after their application, while a verification exercise was also conducted.
Chikezie said that the participating farmers must have suitable facilities for fattening a minimum of 30 pigs.
He also said that reputable pig breeders and farmers were selected to serve as out-growers for the supply of genetically improved adaptable breeds of pig to other farmers.
He said that the selected farmers would be provided with credit in cash and kind – involving pig wearers and feeds – while the cash given to them would augment other production costs.
“The credit will be paid back at generous interest rates over a period of 36 months, inclusive of a moratorium period of six months,’’ .
Chikezie said that Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa had approved the commencement of other livestock development projects in the state.
He added that the projects included broiler out-grower and goat farming schemes.
Mr Julius Omunizua, the Director of Livestock Services in the ministry, said that the participants were trained last week on the essence of the programme and the best practices which should be adopted to achieve results.
Responding of behalf of the trainees, My Jacob Foghi, thanked the government for the training and pledged that the pig farmers would make concerted efforts to improve the economy of the state and the country at large.